Feb. 25 (Bloomberg) — The obesity rate among 2- to 5-year- olds dropped by almost half in the U.S. over the past decade, according to a report that suggests a new wave of Americans may be able to avoid the heart disease and diabetes risks linked to being severely overweight.

Obesity among young children fell to 8.1 percent in 2011 to 2012, from 14 percent in 2003-2004, a the study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association found. The results, by researchers at the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, expands on information initially reported by the federal agency in October.

About 78 million adults are obese, or about one-third of the population, according to the CDC. While rates for teenagers and adults have largely remained the same over the last decade, according to the report, the progress seen among the very young offers hope for the future, said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, head of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

"Progress among the youngest children is especially important because we know that preventing obesity at an early age helps young people maintain a healthy weight into adulthood," said Lavizzo-Mourey, whose nonprofit group has pledged $500 million to reduce childhood obesity in the U.S.

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to BenefitsPRO, part of your ALM digital membership.

  • Critical BenefitsPRO information including cutting edge post-reform success strategies, access to educational webcasts and videos, resources from industry leaders, and informative Newsletters.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM, BenefitsPRO magazine and BenefitsPRO.com events
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including ThinkAdvisor.com and Law.com

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.